Desolate Mage: A Legend Reborn! is a Webnovel made by Ierrech.
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“As of today, the Ancient Slith Sect is no more!!”
Kenzie’s shock-inducing words shattered whatever remained of Bernie and Ollie’s calm of mind; upon hearing those 10 words uttered, their jaws dropped even further, eyes nearly popping out of their sockets.
They would have even shot to their feet and slammed their palms onto the table in disbelief and indignance, if not for the fact that they were too distraught to even move a muscle – the wine cup in Bernie’s hand even slipped right out, clanging and rolling onto the table before hitting the floor with a resounding ring! It was a good thing there were but dregs of the reddish-purple fermented fruit juice remaining in the cup.
Kenzie, despite noticing their stunned and incredulous reaction, merely smiled beatifically and sighed, seemingly a different person from his usual stern, powerful and authoritative self. He looked like a figure who had entered a state of nirvanic enlightenment, one who had ascended to the greater realms; or at least glimpsed the edges of a better world in the heavens up above.
Yet at the same time, the creases at the corners of his eyes betrayed his world-weariness and a sorrow that exceeded words; one that could only be expressed perhaps… Perhaps never.
“B-But-but…! H-how!?… Howcouldyoudothattous?!?”
“Patriarch!! I, you, we, I…!!!! We!!! You!!!”
The two finally began to recover their souls, one to splutter and blurt out gibberish while the other shakily rose to his feet, raised a finger to point at the Slith brothers and tremble while repeating various p.r.o.nouns in confusion.
In contrast, Ol’ Mulberry merely reclined comfortably, leaning against the edge of the back of his chair, slightly angled towards the side so he could face Kenzie and Maester Slith better. He did not look surprised, nor did he exhibit any form of reaction at all. Perhaps this was the outcome he had been expecting – or recommending – for a good long time now.
Kenzie allowed Bernie and Ollie to work through their shock, confusion and frustration, allowing this to continue for some time. He let the two calm down slightly before his eyelids snapped open and he fixed a sharp, fiery gaze like that of an Asura who had trod through countless battlefields; raising a hand to silence them and to hear him out.
Immediately the two’s mouths snapped shut as they obediently sat down like two children just chided for misbehaving. It was only after sitting back down that they realised what had just transpired and blushed in embarra.s.sment, exchanging a look to each other that contained a promise never to recollect this story to any other – to even pretend it had never ever happened when meeting one another!
Kenzie and Maester also exchange a good, long look, a certain resignation and placid calm apparent in their eyes, evidence of acceptance of their lot in life. Then Kenzie returned with a determined smile to gaze at his last remaining three companions and followers after these many years in the Ancient Slith Sect.
“My most loyal companions… Dear devotees to the Ancient Slith Sect… Also employees who have stuck with us through all the toughest times, even in years when we all had to collectively take a pay cut or forgo our bonuses… At this time, I will revert to what we used to call each other oh so long ago, before the days when we formed this blessed and yet also wretched thing we call the Ancient Slith Sect…!”
Kenzie gathered the robes around his body draped over his shoulders, warding off the cold and covering his simple grey pants and tunic underneath. He then rose slowly to his feet then pushed his chair back several feet before making a move that thoroughly shocked his closest a.s.sociates.
He slowly stepped back from the solid wooden table then dropped to his knees, raising his hands clasped together in a double fist in the way martial artists’ saluted one another, lowering his head in a bow as he said, “My dearest friends…! For all the years we have strived together and been besieged at every side by increasingly great adversaries…”
Then in the midst of their shock and heightening their disbelief even more, Kenzie’s head hit the floor as he prostrated himself before his friends and said, “I am sorry!”
These words rumbled through the hearers ears like peals of thunder, rocking their consciousness and causing them to sway in their seats even as they wondered if they were imagining things. Nevertheless, Kenzie drew in a deep breath to calm his wavering yet resolute spirit, then continued on while Maester looked on and nodded.
“I think it is no secret that ever since General Wyoldr was forced to retire, we lost our support in the government and military that had granted us favour and protection. We had attempted time and again to seek the grace of a n.o.ble family to become our backer, unfortunately, this was not to be so. Yet that is not the root cause of the problem; I admit now, freely and openly, the culprit of our tragedy…”
“Is myself, I and only me!”
Bernie, Ollie and this time even Ol’ Mulberry drew in sharp breaths upon hearing this, wis.h.i.+ng to speak out to stop and comfort their Patriarch. And yet, they were hesitant, for, knowing Kenzie, he had a reason for everything he spoke.
They did not blame him, and yet they could not refute his words for they too had strongly urged and advised Kenzie to accede to their rival sects’ requests – for they and everyone in the city knew and had always known that they were merely lackeys of a far higher force…!
Kenzie drew his body upright with a strong and deliberate motion, remaining on his knees as he spoke, “It was my pride to think that we could maintain our hold of these lands. In truth, there is nothing of worth here, and joint offer of the Desert Sun and Fire Scorpion Patriarchs was far higher than the value of our lands! It was merely my arrogance to refuse, the desire to show that we did not need to rely on anyone to gain glory and prosperity for the Ancient Slith Sect…”
He sighed at this point as he recounted the story, eyes heavy with nostalgia and regret.
“…As for why a great power hidden behind the smokescreen of two Legendary-level sects would desire our barren lands… I believe it had never been a secret to us here in this room. But for our benefactor Lars’ sake as well as to fulfil his objectives here, I will lay it all bare!”
Maester nodded firmly to Kenzie on hearing these words, urging him on as they reached the close of this long, grueling and traumatic chapter of their lives – a journey that they truly hoped would turn around in the days to come.
Kenzie’s eyes were determined as he met Lars’ eyes and said simply, “The cold-based arts of the Ancient Slith Sect are nothing special. However, it is the origin story that somehow leaked about it that drew the unwanted attention of the dark powers of the Wiarno Kingdom…”
“Because more than 60 years ago, a simple pugilistic husband and wife pair could shoot from mediocrity at the Expert-level to rise to the Legendary stage, all because they discovered some remnants pages of fragmented scriptures and an unknown beast’s hide in the depths of an esoteric, dire, dangerous and yet incredibly rich hidden realm…”
Lars’ expression changed upon hearing of this story. Didn’t it sound a little similar to his equally meteoric rise in strength and power? Except that he had no such fortuitous discovery… With his perfect memory since the age of 10, how could he have forgotten if such a thing happened…?
And then the thoughts suddenly struck him; a glaring and obvious fact that needed no explanation, for even the blind would see it staring them in the face. He rubbed his chin, blinking multiple times as he mused about his “lost years” before the age of 10.
‘…Or did I…?’
All these took some time to explain, but it flashed through Lars’ mind in a matter of moments. He collected his thoughts and licked his lips, clearing his throat to ask, “Patriarch, where is this mysterious realm…? What is it called?”
Kenzie smiled and replied directly, saying, “That mysterious place… My father called it the Mystery Realm! And as for where it is… It is in the heart of our Ancient Slith Sect’s lands!”
His head drooped upon speaking those words, as if reminiscing some painful thoughts before continuing, “…And that is the only reason we can think of for being antagonised incessantly by our foes…”
He sighed once, smiling derogatorily at himself and then laughing helplessly in self-pity as he then said, “Why… Why oh why couldn’t I have just accepted the offer of the money and moved to another place…”
Then his eyes began to tear up and his voice shook as he barely managed to mutter out, “E-Everaldus… My son…”
Kenzie buried his face in his hands as Maester, Bernie and Ollie hurried over to their friend and leader’s side to comfort him – while Lars’ eyes first widened then narrowed.
‘…Mystery Realm… What kind of realm would interest and attract a power that could exert pressure even on a Legendary-level sect…? And command TWO Legendary realm masters to do their bidding…?’
He was even tempted to bite his fingernails as his mind contemplated whether he had just gotten himself into a far deeper mess than he could imagine – perhaps this was not going to be so simple of a case as he thought…!
And yet, his heart raced and pumped with excitement, adrenaline rus.h.i.+ng through his veins as bloodl.u.s.t and the desire for battle as he relished the thought of a new challenge.
A fiery emotion began to bubble up within him as he felt indignant and unwilling to back down from being oppressed… But then he smiled slyly.
‘Unless, of course, it’s too dangerous… Heh…’
Lars sat back and retreated to his own thoughts as he waited for the Ancient Slith Sect’s emotional dissolution to complete.
He did sigh though; he just hoped they wouldn’t take too long to send him on his way to the so-called Mystery Realm…
* * * * *
[In the middle of the deepest recesses of Lars’ soul realm. In the darkest corners, far from the ever-s.h.i.+ning incandescence of the core of his soul realm where the golden Concept of Insight and the green-tinged Concept of Greed pulsed with power]
Unbeknownst to Lars, there were two inconspicuous, minuscule dark red-and-purple seeds beginning to take shape somewhere deep within his soul.
Right now the motes of energy were ethereal, otherworldly and illusory; starting out as something so incorporeal one might even dismiss their existence – that is, if one could see the depths of Lars’ soul.
But nonetheless, despite how ephemeral the beginnings of the seeds were, the dark seedlings were not still, yet neither were they just floating aimlessly; no…
They were moving ever-so-slowly with clear purpose and direction, growing in size, solidifying and gaining speed as they head to their eventual, far-off destination.
To the s.h.i.+ning centre of Lars’soul realm.
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